Tuesday, April 14, 2009

A China Story

Entrance to the Carpenter Street with a unique 'Room on top of the Stairs'

We went around the 'China Town' area of Kuching yesterday to window shop for book shelves in particular the well known Carpenter Street - resident to the very early commercial carpenters of Kuching. Well, nearly the whole of downtown Kuching is a big 'China Town'. It was and is still now.

The Chinese has a strong grasp of all trades in the Malaysian economy ( 80%)and Sarawak is no exception. Thus 'China Town' enclaves are everywhere in Malaysia.
Traditionally when the Chinese set up shop in Sarawak, they lived, work and play within the close quarters of their shop. Walking around any China town one sees a microcosm of China - a nation of shopkeepers. Business is so intertwined in Chinese culture that this entrepreneurial spirit was what the British admired about them and the main reason why they imported them from as far away places like China to Sarawak in the nascent days of populating and developing the state. But that's all history. Now the Chinese form a distinct component in the racial makeup of Malaysia. There is however an interesting twist to this preoccupation with business. For many reasons the Chinese in Malaysia do not like to have big families and their reproductive ratio is low compared with other races. Thus we see in Malaysia the trend that by 2030 the population projection is 80% Malays( plus other native races) and 20% Chinese. On another level, I read often that due to the same low reproductive ratio, Singapore( having Chinese as the dominant ethnic group) soon will be having more foreigners than local staying within the tiny island state to the ratio of 1:2.

A colourful side lane to the Carpenter Street. Here old shop houses are increasingly modified to capture the growing tourism business. While furniture shop are still around newer business establishments include bed and breakfast lodgings or inns, handicraft or souvenir shops, travel agencies, gold and jewellery shops.

The old quarters of Carpenter Street. Narrow lane like above is typical of Carpenter Street and is reminiscent of the days of 3-in-1 concept of work, stay and play . This off shot lane is called 'Upper China Street'

1 comment:

Protege said...

It seems that the Chinese has been able to establish these micro towns everywhere in the word. Even European cities have them. And they are always popular to visit.
I love the colourful houses.;))